Monday, July 30, 2007

Road rage and anger

On Sunday I was driving home from Buffalo with two other sisters. At one point we were going over a bridge, and I tend to be a little extra cautious on bridges. So I was driving about 5 miles below the speed limit and I stayed in the center lane because I feel safer there than on the outer lane.


Anyway, there was nobody behind me until a lone car came speeding up. It was toward the end of the bridge so I went over but as the car passed me he made an obscene gesture at me. I guess it because he thought I was going too slow. Is our society getting so rude and crude that people don't have any courtesy anymore?

Then shortly after that we were on the Mass. Pike and I went into the left lane to pass a car. As I got back into the right hand lane, the person driving the other car started to honk at me a lot--I guess he thought I was too close to him and maybe thought I was trying to cut him off (which I wasn't). I had a feeling he was going to try some other form of "revenge" so I kept my eye on the car as he sped up, got into the left lane and passed me. As he came up to our car, he deliberately started going over the white line as if to edge us off the lane and then passed really close in front of me. I decided not to honk at him and just slowed down a bit and let him go.

Things like that are really annoying and I was starting to feel angry about it. But then all of a sudden Jesus' words in the sermon on the mount came back to me, what he said about responding with a blessing when people curse you. It struck me that I had a choice about how to react. If I got angry, I'd just be upset and ruin the rest of my drive. If I let it go I'd have more peace and serenity. I couldn't do anything about it anyway--people do all kinds of crazy things on the road.

When Jesus told us not to respond to anger with anger, he was really telling us how to have peace of mind. By getting angry the first person I hurt is myself. I've done it so many times--I get angry and even if I don't say anything, I might stew about it for a while and then my peace of mind goes out the door.

Jesus was telling us, instead, that if we can forgive these little things we'll have a much happier life.

Lord, help me to follow your wisdom!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We never know how God can work through us

Today at lunch one of the sisters related this story. Recently two of our sisters had done some evangelization work at our local parish, St Thomas Aquinas. Along with providing some good Catholic reading materials, they had given some talks on praying with the Scriptures.

The other day two other sisters were out on an errand. A man came up to them on the street and told them he had attended the parish mission. He said that he hadn't been praying for many years, but the sisters' talk inspired him to take it up again. "My life has been transformed," he said simply. Then he told them he had stopped drinking and felt much peace and happiness. The power of God's grace working through us is amazing!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mary and Martha

Today's Gospel is the famous one about Mary and Martha. While Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to him speak, Martha was busy with all the details of hospitality. Obviously annoyed at Mary, she complained to Jesus and told him to tell Mary to help her.

Jesus' reply is hard to understand, since he seems to say that Martha was doing something less good: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken away from her." No doubt many mothers, on hearing this, feel slighted that their loving efforts to take care of their families seem to get a put down from Jesus!

The priest at our Mass today gave a great homily on this Gospel. He said that Jesus is not trying to put Martha down for working hard. Instead, if he seems to reproach her, it's not because of what she is doing but the way she is doing it. Martha is anxious and worried about many things.
That seems to be the key. Instead of being anxious and worried, Martha needed to trust more in the Lord and put first things first. Father said that the word that is translated here as "anxious and worried" is the same word used in the parable of the sower, where it is translated as "choked." The seed that fell among weeds was choked off and couldn't grow. Jesus is saying that if we get too caught up in our everyday concerns, those very concerns can choke off our spiritual life.

Father also said that although the last line is usually translated "Mary has chosen the better part," the Greek word there is "good": "Mary has chosen the good part." The good part is to listen to the words of the Lord.

Jesus didn't tell Martha she should hurry up and get the dinner on the table! He wouldn't have minded if Martha had sat down too and joined Mary in listening to his words. We still have to do our everyday tasks. Someone has to cook the meals and do the dishes, and those are very important things. Jesus wasn't putting that down. He was just telling Martha to get her priorities in order and stop worrying.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How the saints help us

This is a true story that happened recently. It's from one of the sisters whose father died near the end of June:


"Tuesday evening my dad noticed someone in the room with us. He looked toward the ceiling and asked me “Who is that?” I asked him who it looked like since I couldn’t see anyone. 'John the XXIII,' was his reply. I started telling him about John XXIII. The next morning my brother looked him up on the Internet and printed out his picture.

[Shortly after this] a priest came to administer the Sacrament of the Sick. We told him about dad’s 'vision' of John XXIII. Fr Perez had recently returned from Rome. He told us that he had celebrated Mass for dad on the tomb of John the XXIII."

******

Isn't that amazing? They didn't even know that this priest had celebrated Mass on the tomb of John XXIII until afterward. But it's not unusual for people who are dying to see a saint or the Blessed Mother, who comes to help them enter eternity. The saints can help us in practical ways like this; it's a good idea to ask for their help!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Today’s feast, commonly associated with the scapular, can help us reflect on the Biblical theme concerning garments of salvation. The German word for scapular, “Gnadenkleid,” literally means “grace-garment.” Many references to garments and clothes are scattered throughout the Bible, beginning in Genesis: “And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). In their original state of innocence, they had no need for clothes. They were naked but not ashamed—this is what Pope John Paul called “original nakedness.”
But after their sin, our first parents lost their innocence and needed to be clothed. God’s tender action of making clothes for them can perhaps be seen as symbolizing the garments of grace that God would bestow through Jesus Christ.
Pure and clean garments came to symbolize grace and salvation, as the prophet Isaiah sang:
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

This imagery blends the spousal theme with that of garments of salvation. This text is used in the Liturgy of the Hours for the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Garments signify the gifts of grace that God adorns us with inwardly.

The last book of the Bible, Revelation, picks up the theme of white garments to express the holiness of the saints, of those who have been through great trials and held fast to their faith: “Yet you still have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels” (Rev 3:4–5).
Among the several “blessings” in the book of Revelation, we find this one: “Blessed are those who wash their robes [in the blood of the Lamb] so that they will have the right to the tree of life” (22:14).




Perhaps today the scapular devotion is not as popular as it once was. But Catholicism, as a sacramental religion, uses such material symbols as signs of the deeper underlying inner reality of grace. The scapular is not meant to be something superstitious, like a talisman or a good luck charm. Wearing it expresses in a silent yet eloquent way our love for Mary and our confidence in her intercession and help.

Prayer

The following prayer, called Flower of Carmel, is attributed to St. Simon Stock:

O Beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity! O Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Show us that you are our Mother! Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!

Summorum Pontificum on the Latin Mass

I just got back from vacation, so yesterday I read the new Motu Proprio on the Tridentine Mass for the first time. I still need to read more commentary on it. But here are a few things that caught my interest.

1. The explanatory letter to the bishops that accompanies the Motu Proprio gives the Pope's main reason for doing this. "It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church." The Pope candidly admits that in the past, "at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church's leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity."

This gives us a great insight into Benedict's pastoral heart. I see him as a pastor who wants to keep everyone in the fold, no matter what their preference for liturgy is.

2. He stresses that the Tridentine Mass is an "extraordinary" form of the Roman rite. This should--hopefully--assuage fears that he is trying to overturn Vatican II. The Novus Ordo remains the ordinary form of the Roman rite.

3. One line in the explanatory letter especially struck me: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."
Sometimes in hearing people talk about the liturgy, a certain disdain and even contempt for the old rite comes out. Certainly it needed reform, as Vatican II desired. Benedict's reminder here that the liturgy always remained sacred is very welcome.

I recall something that happened in a class I took in the early 1990's. We were discussing the liturgy, and the priest/professor, who certainly supported the new rite and the reforms of Vatican II, remarked that something was still missing. The reform of the liturgy hadn't attracted more people to worship, but in fact more Catholics were staying away from Mass. More work still had to be done to truly reform the liturgy.

What do you think about it?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Gay rights leader comes out of homosexual lifestyle

Michael Glatze, a founding editor of Young Gay America magazine, has repudiated his homosexual lifestyle. He shares the story of his conversion in this article.

Motu proprio on Latin Mass

From the Vatican news agency:

Vatican, Jul. 4, 2007 (CWNews.com) - A papal document widening use of the 1962 Roman Missal will be released on July 7, the Roman news agency I Media says, confirming reports that circulated late in June.

The motu proprio will be entitled Summorum Pontificum, I Media adds. The title of the Pope's document had not previously been mentioned in the media, despite numerous reports of its existence and intense speculation over its contents.

The German-language agency Kath.net reported on June 27 that the document by Pope Benedict XVI ( bio - news) will be released on Saturday, July 7. The Kath.net story appeared after a special Vatican meeting in which a small group of prelates were briefed about the contents of the motu proprio. The Vatican press office later confirmed that the meeting had taken place, but did not confirm the publication date for the document.

The motu proprio is reportedly a 3-page document. It will be released in conjunction with a 4-page explanatory letter in which the Pope sets out his reason for encouraging the use of the pre-conciliar liturgy as an "extraordinary" form of the Latin rite.

Cast your vote!

Sr Anne Joan at nunblog is urging everyone to help the Fr. Harry Thompson Center in New Orleans in a very easy way. You can cast your vote here so that they will receive funds from Burger King.

Sr Anne explains what the center does:

The Harry Thompson Center is committed to providing a calm and caring environment in which to serve the needs of the poor and homeless in the downtown New Orleans area. The Center is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all those who come to us in need, not merely by responding to physical needs, but also by attending to the whole person with respect and compassion, after the example of Jesus

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Letter to the Church in China

Today the Pope issued a letter to Catholics in China.
The Vatican website also has a note that goes with the letter, giving some details about the background of the whole situation of the Church in China.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Congratulations to our new professed!

On Saturday, June 30, our congregational feast of St. Paul, three of our novices made their first vows! Congratulations to Sr Maria Kim, Sr Jamie Paula and Sr Karen Theresa.
I hope to get some pictures to post soon.

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